Thursday, October 6, 2011

Snooping Bosses

For my first blog entry assignment  I was asked read and reflect on the article 'Snooping Bosses' .  I found it very interesting, made ​​me reflect on the disproportionately use of new technologies violating individual freedom and privacy of the employees by boss of companies.

“In medio stat virtus” (In the middle lies the virtue). A quote from a famous Latin philosopher  Orazio. Do not ever overdo neither in excess nor in failing because  the "perfection" or the good life is in the balance.

The largest and most famous scientist Albert Einstein, for example, shook  the physics of the Twentieth Century with the brilliant discovery of atomic energy, but this finding was potentially dangerous, it also led to the atomic bomb in Nagasaki and Iroshima.
The development of technology has allowed man to improve his standard of  living, but the other side of the coin shows that if the man is not making "good use" of them he is likely to worsen it. For my thesis,  I worked  to design a communication platform for monitoring patients in assisted care facilities using sensors, wireless networks and GPS technologies. This is a “good use” , for me, of new technologies. I do not think about using new technology to snoop workers in their office. I just believe in spying and wiretaps to fight terrorism and crime or child pornography.

In a work environment the use of new technologies can greatly simplify the work of employees, or use them to monitor and safeguard the security of employees. I disagree with the use of new technologies for spying, even if they were aware of this. This helps to increase the gap and mistrust between employer and employee.This leads to creating a work environment unwelcoming. Personally, I'd be afraid to make mistakes and be wrong if I knew for sure that I'm guarded by a camera or a microchip or  someone was spying on my email .If the boss is committed to creating a comfortable working environment the employees will work better with pleasure and  they will not need to invent excuses to take the sick days or to spent a lot of time to surf  to Web. This will help to increase the profitability of the company.

Someone might object: but if a person does not have anything to hide, why not allow the use of cameras or other forms of surveillance? Or: how does a boss to find out if one of his employees is violating the company’s rules?  I am convinced that respect and mutual trust are the basis of any organization , if this fails, everything will crash.
Maybe it's an utopia, but it is my thinking and I'm glad to be able to freely express and share it with you.


  1. You have many interesting thoughts in your text, especially when you connected Einsteins work and your own project with the subject “snooping bosses”. I agree with what you are saying about how the working environment would be unwelcoming if the employees were spied on and I think that even if an employee is totally honest he or she would feel uncomfortable and would not be as productive as before. // Sofia

  2. As you say above, there are to sides (at least) to everything. Good and bad applications of technology, valid as well as invalid reasons for surveillance and so forth. I can see several reasons for monitoring, be it patients as above, staff, or the public, and I can see equally many reasons for not monitoring, chief of which is the "price payed" by the monitored. The benefit of monitoring/being monitored has to balance well the loss of personal integrity and the intrusion into privacy. What also should be taken into the equation is the validity of the monitoring process. Do we actually see/measure anything relevant to our goals and objective, and can we discern this useful information from the noise. Does this intrusion of being monitored actually lead to increased security/productivity in proportion the encroachment? Or even, at all? Or does the problem simply move beyond our reach? Is it even there?

  3. I'm glad you are able to see both sides of the coin. I'm more pro surveillance more than against. It is as you say, when you got nothing to hide, what’s the harm? I know every person got secrets, but what secrets are so dangerous to unveil at a workplace? also, there is the thing about safety, for yourself and for others. But where to draw the line when there’s spying on a person and surveillance? That’s the really hard part. But actually see more winning in surveillance than loss.

  4. I think it's interesting what you say about the relation between the employer and the emplyee. I also belive that the gap between them will grow when the 'controller' can't allow himself/herself to trust the employee. It would probably involve a lot of stress for the worker but also for the boss.